Even in good times, there will be a portion of your audience who are extremely price sensitive. In tougher times, that portion will increase. That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to sell on price. [level-members]
As we’ve discussed more times than I can remember, competing on price is a tough, tough approach to take, especially if you lack the resources to out-buy and out-wait larger competitors. (In some states, you may have trouble buying wines at the prices super-high-volume sellers are selling them for!) So don’t even consider that as an option.
Which pretty much means resisting the urge to stock the mass-market wines that are most heavily marketed by their manufacturers. There’s simply no margin in those wines, and there’s always someone who can sell it for less.
Your better alternative is to find more interesting alternatives. These can be an easier sell than you’d think. Your wine shop customers are pretty savvy. (I know this because, with the internet democratizing information in every industry, all consumers are pretty savvy.) In fact, most consumers will recongize that the brands they see advertised on TV and in print couldn’t possibly be as good as a less heavily marketed wine at the same price. That marketing doesn’t happen for free.
Which is where you can offer interesting varietals, lesser-known producers in high-priced regions, and house favorites that aren’t available in every other shop. You might even consider making the connections for your customers with “if you like … you’ll love …” to help guide those who think they’re looking for that mass-market brand.
It helps if you expand on the “if you like …” idea. Rather than just a straightforward “if you like Brand X, you’ll love Brand Y,” talk about the best qualities of your Brand Y. If you love the fruit-forward flavors and food-friendliness of Brand X, you’ll love Brand Y.
If you’re looking for some slightly off-the-beaten-path affordable wine ideas, this Jancis Robinson article is worth the read.